Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and
conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground,
though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of
underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed
to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and
leader in high-tech industries.
Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities
and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future
sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an
average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply
comes from groundwater.
A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local
and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable
groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.
As a resident of Marina and the president of the Board of
Directors of Marina Coast Water District, I feel it is very
important to correct inaccurate statements provided by former
Congressman Sam Farr. Yes, MCWD has needed to expend legal fees
in the past few years; however, the bulk of those fees are to
protect our precious water source from California American
Water. Cal Am seeks to construct a desalination plant that will
degrade our sole water supply source, groundwater… -Written by Jan Shriner, president of the Marina Coast
Water District board of directors.
More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development
with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce
health, safety and environmental impacts. …
Colorado approved new, nation-leading well integrity rules
designed to prevent oil and gas wells from leaking methane to
the atmosphere, befouling groundwater resources and causing
explosions that can harm workers and communities.
The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order
for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery
locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and
surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects
groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the
flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their
site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance
requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced
five watershed coordinator grants totaling $1.5 million to
support regional sustainable groundwater management goals. The
grants will go to organizations around the state within medium-
and high-priority groundwater basins.
To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the
Water Education Foundation has an array of educational
materials on this vital resource. And next week, the
Foundation’s online magazine, Western Water news, will
publish a special report examining how two local groundwater
agencies are taking different approaches to achieve
sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most
critically overdrafted regions in the state.
Madera County farmers are getting ready to play what could be
the “game” of their livelihoods. The county groundwater
sustainability agency will launch a groundwater market
simulation, or game, next month as a way for growers to see if
selling and trading their groundwater helps make the most of
what will become a severely limited resource in coming years.
The Colusa and Glenn Groundwater Authorities will host an
online workshop about a Well Monitoring Pilot Program the
agencies are implementing. The voluntary, non-regulatory
program will gather information about groundwater use in the
Colusa Subbasin while also providing participants with
near-real time access to information on well production and
groundwater levels at their wells, according to a press
A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin
Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the
over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water
bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call
subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28
feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for
the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers. … All
over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico
City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the
ground under humanity’s feet.
California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like
spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have
seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the
state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and
adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and
economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack,
California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what
is deemed a normal depth. -Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.
San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are
facing different but equally daunting water challenges.
For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater
sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in
expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated
farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the
early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet
years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major
concern. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if
they jointly developed and managed some water supplies. -Written by Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the
Public Policy Institute of California
While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much
more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento
Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While
the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging,
we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our
water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies
this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are
highly skilled at delivering essential services to their
customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented
times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to
impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on
vital issues affecting California water management, including
the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency
strategies to increase resiliency in dry years.
On Jan. 15, State Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas
introduced Assembly Bill 252, which if approved would help
alleviate the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act (SGMA) on farmers and ensure that farmland taken out of
production due to SGMA is reused to provide conservation,
recreation, or other benefits to local communities.
California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food,
including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has
the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier
southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing
surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged
droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing
competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to
provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting
groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s
agriculture and residents.
A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water
supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful
of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain
pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide
degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic)
transformation of pesticides into other compounds.
Arizona depends heavily on the Colorado River, and it is
over-allocated, meaning, we collectively take more water from
the system than nature puts in. To make matters worse, the
Colorado River basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought
of more than 20 years. When you take the longer term view,
a lot of communities in Arizona are heavily dependent on fossil
groundwater supplies. Once you pump them out, they’re gone
forever. There are real problems looming when it comes to
groundwater management and the Colorado River.
A national coalition of over 200 agricultural organizations and
urban and rural water districts urged President-elect Joe Biden
and congressional leadership to address aging Western water
infrastructure in any potential infrastructure or economic
recovery package. Kings River Conservation District was among
the organizations to sign on to the letter.
The building of dams on the Colorado River has forever changed
the ebb and flow, flooding, drying and renewal cycle of what
was once Lake Cahuilla, changing its character and changing its
name to the Salton Sea. Entrepreneurs once thought that the
Salton Sea would become a sportsman’s mecca, providing fishing,
boating, and waterskiing experiences like no other. There were
a few decades where that dream seemed to be true. Then it
The stage is finally set for years of talking to be translated
into actual clean drinking water for potentially thousands of
San Joaquin Valley residents. But activists fear the effort
will flop before the curtain rises if more isn’t done to engage
the people who are drinking that water. The issue is nitrate,
which is rife the valley’s groundwater and considered
dangerous for infants and pregnant women.
Large swathes of land in densely populated parts of the world
are subsiding rapidly as a result of groundwater depletion.
Paired with rising sea levels caused by global warming, this
could place many coastal cities at risk of severe flooding by
The Governor’s proposal for how to spend California’s $15
billion surplus includes $60 million in direct grants to help
replenish groundwater in the valley’s most depleted basins. The
measure specifies the money is to be used in “critically
over-drafted basins,” which lie mostly in the San Joaquin
Valley. Water managers were pleasantly surprised, but not
overwhelmed, by the amount.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as
they update the groundwater management plan for the greater
South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of
drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private
water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from
beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s
Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater
conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an
appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community
has a sustainable source of clean water supply.
Vicky Espinoza is on a mission. Vicky is passionate about
making sure rural, low-income communities and small-scale
farmers have a say in land-use and water-management decisions
in the San Joaquin Valley.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday, as part
of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new
draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s
decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund… In
the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft
guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing
them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the
Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the
Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision
in County of Maui.
Borrego Springs’ only viable water source is a large aquifer
under Borrego Valley; it has long been accepted that the
aquifer’s water collected over millennia and is being pumped at
a rapid pace by recent generations. What farmers, developers,
business owners, and residents never agreed upon was how much
water was actually available, and how long it would last.
Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern
California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall
feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater
basins to meet all the water needs of our community. Water
is at the core of our identity and the future of its security
is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts
have reduced water use by 20%, Ventura’s rain-dependent water
supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.
A dinosaur bone. The footprint of a woolly mammoth. An ancient
shell imprinted on a rock in your backyard. These are the
images the word “fossil” calls to mind. But, buried deep within
the earth, there’s another kind of fossil you might not expect
— ancient aquifers, created by rain and snow that fell more
than 10,000 years ago. And unless the fossil water stores are
better protected, scientists say, they may become a thing of
the past. New research on fossil water from Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory suggests that drinking wells that pump
fossil water can’t rely on it being replenished — especially
during times of drought.
An invisible flow of groundwater seeps into the ocean along
coastlines all over the world. Scientists have tended to
disregard its contributions to ocean chemistry, focusing on the
far greater volumes of water and dissolved material entering
the sea from rivers and streams, but a new study finds
groundwater discharge plays a more significant role than had
In a letter to the city’s Hearing Officer, the Arroyo Seco
Foundation said it opposes plans by the Pasadena Water and
Power Department to upgrade facilities in the Upper Arroyo Seco
damaged by the 2009 Station Fire. Damage to the
structures has greatly reduced the city’s capacity to divert
water from the Arroyo Seco for spreading and pumping.
As North County water stakeholders wait for the state’s
approval of a 20-year Paso Robles Groundwater Basin
sustainability plan, the State Water Resources Control Board
recently expressed concerns about whether that plan does enough
to reverse the basin’s decline and protect domestic well users.
A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment
District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys
try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial
attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the
agency’s new general manager.
The EPA did issue a draft guidance memorandum relating to the
County of Maui decision, notice of which was published in the
Federal Register on December 10, 2020. However, instead of
clarifying the seven criteria stated by the Court in County of
Maui or the application of those criteria, the EPA took seven
and half pages to state three truisms and added an additional
criteria not stated in the Court’s decision bringing the total
number of factors to consider in determining whether a
discharge to ground water is the functional equivalent of a
discharge to navigable waters to eight.
The Visalia City Council’s last meeting was a fitting end to
2020 bringing news of an impending drought and the possibility
the city’s groundwater reaching a new low. At the Dec. 21
meeting, Visalia’s water resource manager Andrew Munn told the
council he was recommending the city move into Stage 2 of its
water conservation ordinance on March 1, 2021 and to move into
Stage 3 if the aquifer drops to a historic low.
The Friant Water Authority cleaned up some of the most
important work in the last month of the year hashing out a
legal settlement with farmers in southern Tulare County.
Represented by the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability
Agency (GSA) farmers agreed to contribute at least $125 million
to repair the significant subsidence-caused sag in the
gravity-fed canal that has cut water deliveries by 60%.
A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment
District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys
try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial
attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the
agency’s new general manager.
The board of the Water Replenishment District rejected a
controversial proposal to hire former Carson Mayor Albert
Robles as its interim general manager in a stunning turn
when one of his supporters, and then another, left the meeting
On December 8, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) issued draft guidance intended to clarify when a
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit
is required under the Clean Water Act (Act) based upon the
recent United States Supreme Court ruling in County of Maui v.
Hawaii Wildlife Fund (Maui). This guidance is important
for public agencies and other entities that make point source
discharges to groundwater that reach waters of the United
Ametek Inc., a manufacturer of electronic instruments, has
agreed to pay $3.5 million to put to bed allegations that it
contaminated the groundwater of mobile home parks near a
California aerospace manufacturing plant it once operated. The
settlement, which received final approval from a California
federal judge Tuesday, will include $1.5 million for medical
consultations for the roughly 7,000-person class that says
their groundwater was contaminated with the toxic chemical
trichloroethylene, a solvent used in manufacturing.
San Luis Obispo County recently launched a project aimed at
developing a groundwater sustainability plan for the Arroyo
Grande Subbasin and is calling for community members with wells
that tap into the basin to help improve the county’s water
level data. The Arroyo Grande Subbasin consists of a seven-mile
stretch extending from the Lopez Dam to Highway 101 and was
established as its own entity in 2019.
Spend time in any of the world’s great forests and you’ll start
seeing the trees as immense pillars holding the heavens aloft
while firmly anchored in the earth. It’s as much fact as
sentiment. Trees really do link the ground to the sky by
exchanging energy and matter between the soil and the
atmosphere. Researchers believe that understanding this
connection could provide both a wealth of scientific insight
into ecosystems and practical applications that address
challenges such as water resource conservation and management.
Rising seas can evoke images of waves crashing into beachfront
property or a torrent of water rolling through downtown
streets. But there’s a lesser-known hazard of climate change
for those who live along shorelines the world over: freshwater
in the ground beneath them creeping slowly upward. For many Bay
Area residents who live near the water’s edge,
little-publicized research indicates the problem could start to
manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities
like those in Oakland, Alameda and Marin City.
In what was hailed as a “landmark agreement,” farmers in an
area of southern Tulare County blamed for sinking the
Friant-Kern Canal from excessive groundwater pumping will chip
in a hefty amount to help pay for a fix. How hefty could
be decided by their payment choice.
EPA’s recent draft guidance memorandum on applying the Supreme
Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund
provides little clarity for determining when a release to
groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a direct
discharge such that it requires an NPDES permit. Instead, the
guidance largely stresses how the Maui decision did not
fundamentally change permitting under the Clean Water
Act, while explaining how permit writers might consider
system design and performance in assessing functional
A new study highlights the tremendous impact groundwater has on
Arizona’s economy and underscores the need to make sure every
community has tools to protect and manage it far into the
future, said Todd Reeve, director of Business for Water
Stewardship (BWS), which commissioned the report.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published guidance on
how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of
Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. The guidance provides some
clarity as to when a discharge to groundwater is the
“functional equivalent of a direct discharge from a point
source into navigable waters.”
The latest update to a video series detailing the impacts of
the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has recently
been released. The bilingual SGMA video series is available on
the YouTube channel CaliWaterAg. The latest installment,
Part 1.4, addresses land repurposing related to SGMA.
California has yet to comprehensively deal with pervasive
chromium-6 contamination, but that may soon change. The
State Water Resources Control Board held public workshops this
week as it moves into what might be one of the final phases of
the process of regulating the contaminant. They looked
specifically at the costs of cleaning up the problem after the
board published more data and analysis of the extent of
chromium-6 contamination last week.
Arizona State University’s Seidman Research Institute and
Business For Water Stewardship released a new,
first-of-its-kind report estimating the economic importance of
groundwater for Arizona’s five Active Management Areas in
Phoenix, Pinal, Prescott, Santa Cruz and Tuscon. The report
finds that Arizona’s groundwater contributed to an annual
average of 43% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), or
$1.2 trillion to the economy over a period of nine years.
In the San Joaquin Valley, agricultural runoff from fertilizer
and manure leaches into groundwater, contributing to some of
the highest levels of nitrate pollution in community water
systems in the country. A new report shows Latino
neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by elevated
levels of nitrate, which advocates say is a result of a
historic pattern of racist policies at every level of
A research team has analyzed big data of more than 200,000
groundwater samples taken from across the state and found that
there are problems with the guidelines used for groundwater
management. Known as the ‘Base of Fresh Water’, the guidelines
are close to fifty years old and don’t reflect current uses,
knowledge, concerns or technologies related to managing
groundwater in this coastal state with a multi-billion-dollar
Southern Tulare County farmers inching toward a cliff of
groundwater restrictions that could dry up tens of thousands of
acres have joined with conservationists to potentially soften
their own landing and help improve wildlife habitat at the same
time. At least that’s the goal of the newly formed Tule Basin
and Water Conservation Trust.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday released a
draft guidance that interprets a Supreme Court decision in a
way that may exempt some facilities from needing permits to
pollute groundwater. The EPA’s new draft guidance says
that whether a pollution discharge into groundwater should be
considered a “functional equivalent” depends on “what happens
to the discharged pollutant over that time and distance
traveled” to the regulated body of water.
The Hopi have lived for thousands of years on the mesas of the
Colorado Plateau. Flowing springs and seeps have sustained
them, providing sources where they have collected drinking
water, grown corn and beans, and maintained a spiritual
connection to life-giving water. But the springs are
dwindling. Some are completely dry.
Stanford researchers have identified the trigger that causes
naturally occurring uranium to dislodge from sediments and seep
into groundwater…The research indicates that calcium
concentrations and soil alkalinity are key determining factors
of uranium groundwater contamination in California’s Central
Valley. The findings will be especially important as water
managers plan for a future with more people and less water
available from snowpack in a warming world.
The Alameda City Council unanimously accepted a pioneering
report on the effects of sea level rise on
groundwater. The report, “The Response of the Shallow
Groundwater Layer and Contaminants to Sea Level Rise” finds
that rising groundwater levels are a hidden threat related to
sea level rise.
The Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s board
has postponed its next meeting to Tuesday, Dec. 8, when it is
expected to clarify a controversial vote to hire former Carson
Mayor Albert Robles as general manager.
An integrated storm water management system at The Albert Roles
Center (ARC) for Water Recycling & Environmental Learning is
helping to maximize on-site filtration and on/off-site
groundwater recharge in Pico Rivera, California.
Groundwater managers across the Central Valley striving to
attain sustainability for underground aquifers are largely
operating without a map. California’s 2014 Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act requires managers to attain
groundwater sustainability by 2042. However, critical knowledge
is lacking on where water flows from the Sierra Nevada
Mountains to recharge water supplies underground, and where
there are sites that could be used to enhance the recharge…
A consortium of agricultural and water groups known as
the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley is
considering what to do with the thousands of acres of farmland
to be fallowed due to the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act. Researchers outlined a recent study showing the
potential for strategically conserving that land to benefit
wildlife, improve soil health and recharge aquifers. They hoped
to work with the consortium on policies addressing this.
The California water district PFAS lawsuit is significant not
only because it is one of the largest PFAS lawsuits filed to
date by a water district, but also because it is one of the
first times that a consumer product manufacturer is being
targeted for PFAS cleanup costs.
An important component of Earth’s hydrologic cycle is
transpiration—the movement of water through plants. Because
transpiration affects near-surface temperatures, streamflows,
and the productivity of ecosystems, understanding potential
sources of subsurface moisture and how plants use them is
crucial for developing accurate dynamic vegetation and land
surface models. Our knowledge of these processes, however, is
far from complete, in part because they are hidden below the
Eleven Orange County water agencies have joined in a lawsuit
seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from DuPont, 3M and
others whose carcinogenic chemicals have leached into
groundwater aquifers and forced the closure of more than three
dozen wells in the central and northern parts of the county.
Almond trees shed leaves, grow woody tissue, and undergo other
processes similar to trees in a real forest. These all have
effects on carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrient cycles. These
characteristics can often mean that nutrients flow off of the
field. They can get into areas like groundwater aquifers, where
they can impact drinking water supplies for rural communities.
Approximately 9,500 rural well owners in Sonoma County will
soon be receiving a survey designed to elicit their concerns
and ideas about local groundwater conditions. This joint
project of the county’s three Groundwater Sustainability
Agencies is the first step in an engagement project
designed to educate and receive feedback from well owners in
the Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma Valley
Cadiz Inc, a Los Angeles-based corporation, still hopes to
drill for water under sensitive public lands in our arid
California Deserts near Joshua Tree National Park, pulling out
50,000 acre-feet of water each year and lowering desert
aquifers. But the odds of this happening are slim with
the corporation facing November election setbacks locally and
As the Colorado River winds its way through several different
regions, the policies regulating it are complex, but without
close management and monitoring, demands on this water source
could outweigh its supply by 2060. To address these
concerns, Riley Swanson, a recent master’s graduate of
geology led a study titled, “Quantifying the base
flow of the Colorado River: its importance in sustaining
perennial flow in northern Arizona and southern Utah (USA).”
Hopes are rising in the southern Central Valley that the
farmland expected to be fallowed in coming years because of
drought and groundwater restrictions won’t sit idle but will
instead be consolidated to make room for new land uses
including solar power generation.
Residents in Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys may have noticed an
unusual sight lately: a low-flying helicopter carrying a large,
hexagon-shaped frame. It’s a project put on by Santa Barbara
County, the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District
and others in the Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater
Basin to map local aquifers in order to better understand
groundwater in the area.
California oil regulators ignored their own regulations and
issued improper permits for hundreds of new wells last year,
according to an audit … finalized this week. … The audit
was requested after stories in The Desert Sun
revealed that CalGEM employees used so-called “dummy”
folders to approve new injection wells for
several oil companies that do risky steam injection.
If an options agreement between the [Ridgecrest] City Council
and Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to
fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility
could help balance the groundwater basin… Both the council
and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings
last week approved the option agreement between the two parties
for recycled wastewater.
Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be
remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water
early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit
irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.
If you look up into [San Joaquin] Valley skies this week and
see a large, oddly shaped device hanging from a helicopter,
don’t be alarmed. It’s part of a research project to map
underground water supplies. Beginning Monday, flyovers are
expected in areas west and south of Fresno – including Fowler,
Kingsburg, Lemon Cove, Orange Cove, Orosi, Parlier, Piedra,
Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Woodlake.
What are key California water priorities for the coming year,
in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the
recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire
season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three
panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water
After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality
and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area
have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be
managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to
participate is quickly approaching.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.
Fewer properties over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be
subject to severe water restrictions after the San Luis Obispo
County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 17 to revise the
basin’s “area of severe decline,” eliminating roughly 37,000
The lower Colorado River Basin, which is primarily in Arizona,
is projected to have as much as sixteen percent less
groundwater infiltration by midcentury compared to the
historical record. That’s because warming temperatures will
increase evaporation while rain- and snowfall are expected to
remain the same or decrease slightly.
In the weeks before the coronavirus began tearing through
California, the city of Commerce made an expensive decision: It
shut down part of its water supply. Like nearly 150 other
public water systems in California, the small city on the
outskirts of Los Angeles had detected “forever chemicals” in
its well water.
Grant Reynolds, a director of Water Audit California, delivered
a letter to the city on Monday criticizing its use of the
Stonebridge wells for municipal use and “a pattern of
exercising no discretion” in issuing permits for new wells.
Plans to regulate groundwater for the first time ever in the
Ukiah Valley Basin are moving forward. And though the details
are wonky and a little esoteric, the results could affect water
and ag policy for years to come. Last week, the Ukiah Valley
Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency discussed how their
mammoth project of sustainably managing the groundwater is
A helicopter making low-level passes over the Santa Ynez Valley
towing a large hexagonal frame is using a technology first
developed in World War II to peer as far as 1,400 feet below
the surface to map the groundwater basin.
The Tulare County Farm Bureau presented a check for $65,000 to
Ben Curti and Tessa Hall of Curtimade Dairy to assist in their
legal fees as they defend against accusations of groundwater
pollution from the city of Corcoran…
The public can finally get a look at how Madera officials plan
to correct severe groundwater over pumping and replenish
aquifers in that area. For some farmers, that correction will
mean pumping limits of up to 50 percent from what’s allowed
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a series
of regulations on where and how hemp growers can operate in
unincorporated areas of Riverside County, prohibiting grows
where water availability is already a challenge.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision,
finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives
clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The
canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.
Dow Chemical Company and Shell Oil Company have been hit with a
lawsuit by the central California county of Madera alleging
they knowingly polluted Madera’s drinking water wells by
manufacturing and selling fumigants, used in agricultural
fields, laced with a toxic chemical.
How wildfires can affect water quality are well documented. But
increasing—and increasingly intense—Western conflagrations are
leading to fears they also could constrict the water quantity
available in some of the nation’s most water-stressed
areas….“It’s absolutely a threat to our water supply—the
quantity and quality of the water that’s able to flow across
the landscape,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the
Association of California Water Agencies…
Private wells in the central San Joaquin Valley are at risk of
water quality issues, failing equipment and declining
groundwater supplies. To help residents address these concerns,
The Fresno Bee contacted public officials, water advocates and
other experts to answer frequently asked questions about common
Recently the Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved a
project that would qualify as “backward planning”: planning
that pays no attention to modern issues, instead using methods
long abandoned by others. To me, as a member of the local
Groundwater Sustainability Advisory Committee, the worst of
these is the plan to concrete a portion of Bouquet Creek along
with the groundwater recharge areas on the property.
In areas where groundwater levels have fallen because of heavy
pumping, people have often responded by drilling deeper wells.
But exactly how much that has occurred on a nationwide scale
wasn’t clear until water experts compiled nearly 12 million
well-drilling records across the country. In a new study,
[UC Santa Barbara] researchers found that Americans in
many areas from coast to coast are drilling deeper for
groundwater….The study confirmed that drilling deeper wells
is common in California’s food-producing Central Valley…and
household wells remain vulnerable to pumping by deeper
The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the
Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval
Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental
clearance for the project – following action from the Trump
administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin
pre-construction work on the canal.
Storage projects partially funded by Proposition 1 should help
the state balance the swings in precipitation that characterize
the California climate… Yet, six years after the bond’s
passage, the water storage projects that will benefit from
Proposition 1 likely remain at least a decade away from
Residents of the Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys may see an
unusual sight in the skies this November, and it won’t be a
UFO. It will be a low-flying helicopter carrying a large
hexagonal frame. This unique equipment is part of a project to
map aquifers and improve the understanding of groundwater in
Local leaders, farmers and others in the Central Valley report
additional progress in addressing salinity in surface water,
and salt and nitrates in groundwater, in compliance with a
program adopted last fall by the State Water Resources Control
The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California are worlds
apart in many ways. Yet each face growing water challenges and
a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water
supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’
water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of
shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some
On October 27, 2020, a California water PFAS lawsuit was filed
by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency against several
companies, in which it is alleged that the companies are
responsible for PFAS water contamination in southern
“As temperatures rise, climate change compounds the already
difficult circumstances of vulnerable communities, increasing
inequities related to access to clean water, clean air and
socioeconomic opportunities” said J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida,
climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the guide.
Cham-Cal, operator and owner of a facility in Garden Grove that
manufactures commercial truck accessories, used and stored
tetrachloroethene (PCE) in its vapor degreasing operation,
resulting in repeated discharges of the suspected
cancer-causing contaminant to soil and groundwater on
industrial property owned by Western Avenue Associates.
The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face
growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring
reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people
and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure
if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to
jointly develop and manage some water supplies.
The [Monterey County] Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to
spend about $2.66 million in cannabis tax revenue over three
years to cover the local cash match for a Salinas Valley well
destruction program. The majority argued the well destruction
program would have a broad community benefit by battling
seawater intrusion threatening Salinas Valley agricultural and
residential water supplies.
The proposed structure will span the width of the existing
channel and feature an operable weir crest gate that can be
raised for diversion to the intake structure and lowered to
bypass diversions. An engineered roughened channel will be
constructed in the section of the stream directly downstream of
the diversion structure for future fish passage. The new intake
will be equipped with a trash rack and fish screens.
For decades it’s been done on a relatively small scale near
Bakersfield, and recent studies confirm it doesn’t threaten
crop safety. So why aren’t more local oil producers giving
farmers the briny water that comes up from the ground along
with oil? In a word, money.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, was a
landmark legislation whose effects will be felt over the
decades that it is phased into implementation. With the long
time horizon it may be easy for some to lose sight of what’s
Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal
State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and
production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist
working in documentary and experimental film, new media and
community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on
a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of
the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
If all goes according to plan, recycled water from the city’s
planned $45 to $60 million wastewater treatment facility may be
used to help balance the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin
as mandated by the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management
I can see clearly the challenge ahead for implementation of the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Actcal act because I now
have first-hand experience with the kinds of water disputes
that can arise when the local parties involved are not given a
chance to work things out collaboratively.
The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final
environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile
segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions
about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant
Advocates and researchers warn that the way many local agencies
have interpreted the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act overlooks the needs of disadvantaged communities who rely
on groundwater for their drinking water. Many are concerned
that households and communities could see their wells go dry in
the coming years, leaving them without access to safe and
affordable drinking water.
California lawmakers need to create a package of legislation
that limits multiple kinds of oil drilling, not just hydraulic
fracturing, if they want to respond effectively to the world’s
climate crisis, says state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, who
chairs the Natural Resources and Water Committee.
Two lawsuits against a Kern County groundwater sustainability
agency show the potential implications for agriculture and
other businesses with historic, overlying water rights….”It’s
one of the first groundwater sustainability plans we’re seeing
that could wholly restrict agriculture in a water-poor area,
while ignoring overlying rights and preferring other,
non-agricultural users in the basin,” [the California Farm
Bureau Federation's Chris] Scheuring said.
A national environmental organization is preparing to sue Gov.
Gavin Newsom’s administration for issuing new fracking permits,
including six approved on Friday, Kassie Siegel, director of
the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute,
Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry
in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans
prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We
explored groundwater planning with three members of the
environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help
Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and
Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and
In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created
equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be
recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers
has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer
those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire
Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and
their struggle to remain connected to the most precious
resource—water. This digital media project combines short
documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data
visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the
San Joaquin Valley.
Right now, the Mendocino County Sustainable Groundwater Agency
is writing up a groundwater sustainability plan for the basin.
The plan will regulate groundwater in the Ukiah Valley basin
for the first time ever, and will define how water is managed
in and near Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Ukiah for perpetuity.
At the 3rd annual Western Groundwater Congress in September,
Dr. William Blomquist, professor of political science and more
at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, gave a
presentation of ongoing research with Dr. Christina Babbitt,
California Groundwater Manager at the Environmental Defense
Fund looking at how other groundwater basins have developed
A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National
Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial
intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for
the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim,
the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts
for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”
Tehama County Board of Supervisors received an update Tuesday
… on groundwater levels and well depths following reports of
south county wells going dry. … The majority of the calls
come from areas west of Interstate-5 as far as Rancho Tehama,
where at least two people have reported wells going dry. A few
others have reported declining groundwater levels.
Sixty percent of California’s public water supply wells that
were tested for so-called forever chemicals contain those
compounds, according to research that the State Water Resources
Control Board released Wednesday. The findings … shed new
light on the presence of PFAS contamination and areas that
could be vulnerable based on proximity to known sources like
airports and landfills.
Developing lithium from the Salton Sea in California can help
anchor a multi-billion dollar domestic electric vehicle battery
supply chain and inject thousands of jobs and billions of
dollars into California’s economically disadvantaged Imperial
Valley, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.
The Coachella Valley Water District broke ground Tuesday on a
project that will connect the Westside Elementary School in
Thermal to the water system that services much of the valley.
Westside is the only school in its district relying solely on a
well and has a history of water contamination….construction
is advancing with money from the state water board’s Safe
and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program. [It
is the state's first recipient under the program.]
Water providers in California face myriad challenges in
sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their
customers while protecting the natural environment. In this
blog post, I explore the stresses
that surface and
groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s
retail water agencies.
Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California
selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship…
One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa
“Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who
spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne
Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work
Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in
a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a
remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with
climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the
understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San
A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working
well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water
Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners
to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more
accurately track water use.
Landowners with access to underground water have been able to
pull as much water, at any rate, any time, and for any reason
without worrying about protocols or following government rules.
That is about to change. Last Tuesday, local officials and
environmental engineers introduced an outline for how to
sustainably manage and regulate groundwater in the region.
In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water
users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to
have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the
last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater
rights than there was water available. Today state officials
say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which
could mean cuts.
The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that its
low-interest loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency
has been approved, to be used toward construction of the Pure
Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion
Prevention Project. The loan, up to a maximum of $88.9 million
at an interest rate of 1.34%, is part of the Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding program.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority faces two
lawsuits, from a major local farm operation and Searles Valley
Minerals, over water rights filed this week in the aftermath of
the passing of a controversial groundwater replenishment fee
and a fallowing program.
NASA announced plans Friday to clean up a Cold War-era rocket
fuel testing site in Southern California — plans that have
upset residents who say the space agency and the Trump
administration have punted any responsibility for a full
cleanup and will leave most of the area contaminated.
Healthy communities need clean, reliable water supplies. That
is why your thoughts, and ideas need to be shared with local
water agencies as they create plans that map out how
groundwater will be managed for the next 50 years.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in
a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a
remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with
climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the
understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San
Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights
and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy
agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial
$2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain
groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is
intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and,
somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the
overdrafted desert aquifer.
One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this
two-part question: Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do
they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their
groundwater use and by how much? [Please note Oct. 20 webinar.]
The land east of Madera has changed in the 25 years since
Rochelle and Michael Noblett built their home… There are more
houses, more irrigated agriculture and less grazing land.
There’s also been a significant decline in water availability,
as the level of groundwater drops below what some domestic
wells can reach. That’s why the couple was shocked when the
county allowed a new irrigation well and almond orchard … in
the midst of the most recent drought, even as private wells
were going dry…
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have
provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern
Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water
Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on
federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other
government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern
Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a
proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of
Potentially the most important question popped up roughly
halfway through the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board
candidate forum Wednesday night. Hidden within a longer
question was the key point: how do the candidates think the
local water basin should be balanced and how do they plan to
protect water district ratepayers while doing so?
Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology
… are using a form of artificial intelligence known as
machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence –
to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To
carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan
Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from
satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western
U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.
When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that
“groundwater management in California is best accomplished
locally.” With the first round of plans made available for
public comment this year, it appears that, while the state
certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those
same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture
and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed to work with
the state legislature to phase out new permits for hydraulic
fracking by 2024, but left untouched a more widely used oil
extraction technique in the state that has been linked to
hundreds of oil spills.
How does a region integrate Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act (SGMA), a program mandated by state legislation, with
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), a voluntary
collaborative effort, to implement regional water management
solutions? … This article discusses how IRWM and SGMA share a
Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the
Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development
Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year
300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada
and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the
pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.
Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own
well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new
groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct.
1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a
public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…
A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has
developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild,
native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers
from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a
sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health
and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.
The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked
into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in
hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a
simple question: How much water is there? That answer is
complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River
tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the
future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.
The last few years have been dry for one of the oldest
cemeteries in Tulare County. The well at the Deep Creek
Cemetery has been parched since 2014 and now they are in talks
with the Farmersville City Council to potentially connect to
the city’s water system.
State and local agencies are continuing to work to implement
the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. With SGMA’s
far-reaching implications, Ph.D. candidate at UC Merced, Vicky
Espinoza has created a bilingual video series to help provide a
better understanding of the impact of SGMA and generate more
For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to
wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops
during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled
water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is
mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred
The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory
Committee — 25 people appointed by the Board of Supervisors
representing such interests as farming, wineries and the
environment — was in action last Thursday with a Zoom meeting.
Surrounded by lush green fields, Pleasanton often makes the top
ten list of desirable places to live. But a new list just out
is nothing to boast about. “I was just floored,” said
Pleasanton resident Jill Buck when she found out her town made
the top ten for dangerous drinking water.
The Pleasanton City Council made headway on plans to repair a
contaminated groundwater well and meet — if not exceed –
future water quality standards earlier this month. In a
unanimous vote Sept. 1, the council approved a $437,374
contract with Walnut Creek-based Carollo Engineers to prepare a
basis of design report for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) treatment and rehabilitating the city’s groundwater
San Diego is not well endowed with many freshwater sources to
support its growing population, so some water experts are
perplexed the city’s ignoring a self-replenishing local
groundwater source that, though small in size, is safe from the
threat of natural disasters and reliably recharged by the San
Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the R–N
Market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water,
you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farmworker and mother
of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El
Rancho. She has been purchasing jugs of water at the small
store for more than a decade now.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has taken actions
recently with regards to fees that will affect customers of the
Indian Wells Valley Water District. … It is my intent to
provide context for how these fees will translate to your bill
from the district.
The beleaguered Oasis Mobile Home Park near Thermal, home to
about 1,900 largely Spanish-speaking residents living in poor
conditions, has once again found dangerously high levels of
arsenic in its drinking water. On Friday, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency served park management with an
emergency order compelling them to provide residents an
alternative source of water.
The Pleasanton City Council … unanimously approved a contract
with Carollo Engineers in the amount of $437,374 to prepare a
basis of design report for Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
(PFAS) treatment and the rehabilitation of city-owned and
-operated wells 5, 6 and 8.
In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (or SGMA), requiring local agencies to be formed
and groundwater sustainability plans to be written for all
groundwater basins subject to SGMA. Those plans must avoid six
undesirable results, one of which is “significant and
unreasonable” impacts to groundwater quality.
In Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County
of Stanislaus, the Court held that the County may not
categorically classify all groundwater well permit issuances as
ministerial decisions. Such a classification exempts well
permit issuances from environmental review.
Irvine Ranch Water District and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water
Storage District had just begun environmental review for their
joint banking project this past April when TCP reared its head.
… TCP (trichloropropane) is a carcinogenic leftover from a
nematode pesticide made by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical that was
liberally applied to Central Valley farmland from the 1950s
through the 1980s.
The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a
just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last
Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to
the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a
combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of
I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San
Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San
Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner
at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera
Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will
require of growers in the years ahead.
Expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project is
the best option for the Monterey region to meet its future
water supply needs. Unfortunately, California American Water
Co., a private water supplier, is discrediting the project in
hopes of getting approval for their much more costly, oversized
and environmentally harmful groundwater desalination project…
According to the 21-page complaint, Foster Farms’ Livingston,
California, plant uses 3-4 million gallons of drinkable water
daily, more than all the other water users in the rural city of
14,000 combined. The main reason, the Animal Legal Defense
Fund argues, is Foster Farms’ water-intensive slaughter system.
While the Court’s Opinion does not state that all well permits
must undergo CEQA review, it narrows the grounds on which the
ministerial exemption may apply. And since county well
ordinances across the State comprise similar provisions, this
ruling upsets the common practice of treating such permits as
ministerial, not subject to CEQA.
With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages
already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse.
Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science &
Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of
about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that
one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in Washington, seeks to overturn the Trump EPA’s
decision to allow unlimited amounts of toxic perchlorate in our
tap water. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler reached this
decision even though his agency admits that toxic perchlorate
is found in millions of Americans’ tap water…
The Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday sued the
Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to
regulate a chemical linked to fetal and infant brain damage.
The agency announced in June it would not regulate perchlorate
even though it estimated up to 620,000 people could be drinking
water with a concerning amount of the chemical.
CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and
two federal partners to better understand how water, trees,
soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and
drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has
chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a
variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not
only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and
Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on
domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because
domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive
to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable
groundwater management has an important role to play in
safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the
achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week
said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven
parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing
oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a
“breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to
expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by
climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air
A developer is suing Nevada’s Division of Water Resources after
the state again denied plans to construct new homes at Coyote
Springs, the latest setback in a decades-long effort to build a
sprawling master-planned community about 50 miles north of Las
Vegas. Coyote Springs Investment alleges state officials made a
series of decisions that amount to an “unconstitutional taking”
of the water rights it owns and planned to use.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a Superfund
site project to clean up groundwater in part of a basin in
Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia… According to the Orange
County Water District, groundwater was contaminated with
industrial degreasing chemicals in the early 1960s through the
mid-1980s. The long-lasting effects contaminated an area about
five miles long and two miles wide…
The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies
from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is
heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive
in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program
has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could
have huge implications for water storage and movement in the
Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to
temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million
acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable
groundwater use. … Below, the paper’s lead authors, Benjamin
Bryant and Rodd Kelsey, discuss their research examining how
conservation planning can guide the land use change being
driven by SGMA to achieve multiple benefits…
A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely
limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated
for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up
leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes
specific references within Forest Service policy to review
environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the
requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted
unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and
also approve findings that the programs are exempt from
California Environmental Quality Act review — meaning the
programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the
It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps
along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and
we are happy to share some of what we learned. We are pleased
to present our top 10 SGMA lessons learned:
While the world was coping with the deadly COVID-19 crisis …
the Trump administration was quietly diluting environmental
laws regulating the toxic rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate,
utilized extensively by scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) beginning in the 1950s and since then polluting Pasadena
and Altadena drinking water wells.
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average
residential user presuming a five-year repayment period,
according to Gleason. The fee would reportedly collect some $50
million which would be used to purchase water rights for
imported water, presuming the same users continue using the
water at roughly the same rate.
The study … says that some of the most water-stressed areas
in the West and Southwest have the greatest potential for water
savings. The paper attributes nearly half the potential to
simply improving how water is used in agriculture, specifically
in growing the commodity crops, corn, cotton and alfalfa.
North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with
periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the
wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially
dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.
Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can
be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are
low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is
important for plants, animals and people.
Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted 4-1 to pass the
replenishment fee despite significant public opposition. …
Although residential users will see an estimated $24 per month
increase, Searles Valley Minerals will see a 7,000-percent
increase in water costs.
Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water
Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the
event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San
Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for
irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a
proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed
0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Mayten Fire
Department in Montague Saturday morning to protest the trucking
of water from local wells, most likely to irrigate illegal
cannabis grows in the Big Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas.